Despite progress being made within the LGBT community, substance abuse and addiction still impacts LGBT persons in disproportionately high numbers. Learn more about why the LGBT community struggles with addiction and what can be done to stem the tidal wave of addiction.


Recognition of a Problem

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when compared with the general population, noted the LGBT community is more likely to experience substance abuse and addiction issues at a higher rate and continue drinking later in life. Reports from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted where 10,000 LGBT youths ages 13-17 were surveyed and noted the following statistics:

  • 52% of LGBT youth say alcohol and drugs were used
  • 22% of non-LGBT youth say alcohol and drugs were used
  • Studies have consistently shown a higher overall rate of substance use and substance use disorders in the LGBT community


Psychological Causes

Many different reasons exist for substance abuse and addiction including arguments for both nurture and nature influences but most likely it is a combination. Individuals in the LGBT community experience bullying, harassment, violence, family conflict and peer influence  which can cause depression (thereby motivating substance use). Family history also seems to impact a person’s inclination towards use of illicit substances which impact the adolescent brain and cognitive development. Drugs can have a profound and lasting effect on young people whose brains are still developing, particularly in the areas of judgment and self control.


Party Culture

One of the big influences on drug and alcohol use within the LGBT community is the tendency towards a party culture. Within the LGBT community another hidden group existed who used drugs while partying. While the LGBT community and community at large has become more accepting, open and filled with pride, the party culture still exists to a certain extent for a few reasons:

  • LGBT community is about being oneself
  • Partying is a way to find dates
  • Partying is an escape from reality
  • Attending parties is a way to be around people of similar mind and orientation


Awareness and Treatment

Promoting positive dialogue and supplying of information about dangers of drug and alcohol use in the LGBT community help people understand the risks involved. Education must take place among teachers, parents and others about the warning signs of drug and alcohol use. It is important to promote the following ideals in support of the LGBT community:

  • Acceptance
  • Acknowledgement of each individual regardless of sex, race, color, sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Acknowledgement of challenges and situations affecting marginalized and oppressed communities
  • Support


Many treatment centers have programs dedicated to those in the LGBT community and social workers are aware and trained for issues and discrimination facing the community.  Promotion of a positive dialogue and raising of awareness can help support individuals in the LGBT community who continue to struggle with issues facing us all when it comes to addiction.


Addiction is a problem which affects individuals of all genders, races, classes or sexual orientation. Seek help from Hired Power if you or a loved one needs support. We are here to help guide you on the road to recovery.